continued Critics of using landfill gas as an energy source point out that natural gas is a cleaner fuel source. And some studies indicate that flaring landfill gas creates less pollution than using it to produce electricity.
“Different manufacturers claim different things,” Purtee says. “My opinion is that there would be the same amount of emissions from a microturbine or a reciprocating engine running on landfill gas as we’re getting now out of the flare stack. Only instead, we’d be getting beneficial use made, and we’d be offsetting electricity production from power plants.”
Although the Arizona Landfill has been closed for 34 years, it is estimated that the site will produce substantial amounts of landfill gas for another 30 years. As the trash decomposes and bacteria turn the waste into gas, the land settles, creating uneven playing fields and problems for the gas-collection system.
The baseball field at the southwest corner of Morley Field is an example of the sagging land. Half of the field, home to the San Diego City College Knights baseball team, sits on top of the old landfill.
The chain-link outfield fence is uneven and deformed, pieced together by iron extensions. An old entrance gate to center field, once over 6 feet high, now stands only 3 feet. The fence is held together by wire and string, making it appear shoddy and unkempt.
“You should see the outfield — there are dips all over,” says an assistant coach from Southwestern College, in Chula Vista. “They do a pretty good job at keeping with it, but there’s only so much that they can do. Everyone calls it ‘the park at the dump.’ ”
Ray Purtee points to a dip in the land. “See this bowl? That wasn’t like that five years ago. So, often we’re out here with a backhoe, and we’re digging, and we have to reset the pipe and raise it back up so that it will flow properly and not get clogged. It’s a lot of maintenance. It’s a lot of work to keep this system operating properly.”